Home birth is a choice that the AMA wants to outlaw



Whether or not you’ve had a home birth or would choose one for yourself in the future, I think most women would agree that they should have the right to choose where they give birth. Just as every woman is unique, every baby is unique and every birth experience is unique. What works best for one woman will not work best for the next. Some women feel the most comfortable giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Some feel comfortable birthing with a family practitioner or midwife in a birthing center. Others feel comfortable birthing with a midwife at home. All of these are options are safe choices, so why is the American Medical Association (AMA) trying to outlaw home birth?

Are they scared that Ricki Lake is raising awareness that women have options with her movie The Business of Being Born? They specifically cite Ricki’s and other celebrities’ home births in the media. “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as ‘Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film.'” Ricki responds to the AMA here, and, over on the Huffington Post, Ricki, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block have posted Docs to Women: Pay No Attention to Ricki Lake’s Home Birth. Are they scared that women might question the establishment and demand better care for themselves and their babies? Are they scared that they might (gasp) lose money? Are they scared that women might take back birth?

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years regarding home birth and, of course, came to the conclusion that it was a good choice for me and my family. I’ve also written extensively about my research regarding home birth and my own home birth story as well. I would never say that it is the right choice for every woman, but it do believe it’s a woman’s right to know what her options are, do her research and decide what is best for her and her baby. I do not believe it is the AMA’s right or the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) right to tell a woman where she has to give birth. As Steff Hedenkamp from The Big Push for Midwives states, “a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

So what now? What can we as women, or men who support women’s right to choose, do? You can sign the Keep Home Birth Legal petition and I also encourage you to spread the word about this. Feel free to grab the button (which links back to this post) and put it in your sidebar or blog about this on your own blog. Get the word out there that the AMA is trying to take away our rights. Home birth is a choice. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been trying to get the code for the ‘Home birth is a choice’ button to work, but to no avail. If you’d like to add the button to your sidebar please email me – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com – and I’ll send it to you directly.

And if you feel like a debate today, check out the lively discussion on this topic going on over at BlogHer.

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As my daughter turns 4, I’m thankful for health care

Cross-posted on BlogHer. If you haven’t been to BlogHer in the last couple of days, I hope you’ll stop by and check out the new look. :)

In less than a week, my firstborn child, my baby girl Ava will turn 4. While this isn’t often considered a major milestone, it is still very dear to my heart, being her mother and all. It got me thinking about how good we have it here in North America. I feel fortunate to live in a country where we have access to things such as clean water, nutritious food and medical care. Elsewhere in the world, however, in places like Darfur, Nepal and Afghanistan, where those basic essentials are lacking, a child living to see his or her fourth birthday truly is a major milestone.

Even if our health care system in the United States is not ideal, at least we have access to medical assistance when we need it. When Ava was 13 months old she came down with a nasty case of croup. “Croup is a viral infection that affects mostly younger children (under 5-6). It causes swelling in the child’s vocal cords, which is what causes the barky cough. The vocal cords are already the narrowest part of the air passages, and any swelling from infection may narrow the airway enough to obstruct breathing.”

We kept a close eye/ear on her breathing and did the recommended trips to the steamy bathroom, then out into the night air to help open her airways, but her condition continued to get worse. By 2:30 a.m., as I lay with her on my chest on the couch in our living room her breathing became very labored. Her sternum started to cave in as she inhaled, and that combined with the stridor (whooping sound) were enough for me to tell my husband Jody that we needed to get her to the Emergency Room NOW.

072905-1-s.jpgI feel so fortunate that the nearest hospital is less than three minutes from our house because by the time we pulled into the ER parking lot, the skin around Ava’s little mouth was turning blue. Jody dropped me off at the door and, with my little girl in my arms, I ran in. A nurse immediately heard Ava’s labored breathing and we were seen right away.

Ava ended up needing to be admitted to the pediatric unit for two nights. By the time we went home, our little girl was doing much, much better.

Ava and daddy in the hospital 7/29/05It’s easy for me to take the medical care Ava received for granted. After all, I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve been without it. But if I stop to think about what would’ve happened if we hadn’t had access to a hospital right then when we needed it most, it’s enough to bring me to tears. It’s a very frightening thought to imagine living without access to medical care for my children and I’m thankful that it’s not something I’ll (hopefully) never have to worry about.

Candace of Mamanista! and Mama Saga has blogged in the past about her daughter Baby Diva who was born with tetralogy of fallot, a congenital heart defect.

Heart defects are among the most common birth defects–approximately 40,000 babies (1-2%) in the United States are born each year with a heart defect–and they are the leading cause of defect-related infant death. And yet, there is comparatively little funding going into researching the causes of these defects and treatment options.

Without surgery, depending on the exact pathology, tetralogy of fallot has a mortality of 30% of patients by age 2 years to 50% by age 6 years, 80% by age 10 years, and 95% by age 20…and those statistics are for the more straightforward cases.

However, just one surgery with a very high success rate (95% success in the absence of complicating factors) and Baby Diva now has a good chance to live a normal life.

My fellow BlogHers Act CE Her Bad Mother recently blogged about having to take her newborn baby back to the hospital for tests.

When they tell you that you need to bring your baby to the hospital for tests, that they need to check his spine, that he has some markers for spinal problems, for serious things but maybe nothing but still maybe serious, that it might not be anything but maybe it’s something so it must be checked, it must, your heart constricts and you hold your breath.

Jenny at Crash Test Mommy wrote about the time her daughter Emma was diagnosed with pneumonia and x-rays revealed that part of her right lung had collapsed.

WOW. The doctor and I agreed that it was amazing, seeing as how Emma wasn’t acting *that* sick and didn’t look *that* sick. And WOW. Just WOW.

So now, a week’s worth of Augmentin and back-pounding later, Emma’s doing well and still coughing up lungcrap.

Astacia AKA Mamikaze at Life on the Run writes about her 3 1/2 year old daughter “Bear” who has cerebral palsy.

Even when she’s sick, she is in a good mood. She knows what she wants out of life. I suspect she wants to rule the world. Go for it, I say. It may have taken her 3 years to learn how to walk, but she is no slouch.

A year ago, Anna of Hank & Willie reflected on the birth of her son Henry at 36 weeks and his battle with respiratory distress syndrome. She also has blogged about trying to raise money for the March of Dimes March for Babies.

We remain forever grateful for the excellent care, lifesaving procedures and sophisticated equipment that were available to Henry when he was born prematurely nearly two years ago.

I think it’s safe to say that like Anna, all of these mothers are thankful for the medical care their children have received and/or are continuing to receive. All of our children are alive and we are very fortunate.

At the time of this writing, the BlogHer Global Giving projects have received $6,140 in donations. In honor of Ava’s fourth birthday and in hopes of helping another child across the globe reach her fourth birthday, I am going to make a donation to one of the projects. It is my hope that other mothers will consider following suit on their children’s next birthday. We have a lot to be thankful for. Why not share the love and help out another mother and child?